Born: February 19, 1966
Birthplace: Huntington Beach, California, U.S.A.
Height: 5'10" Weight: 190 lbs.
Drafted by the Winnipeg Jets, 10th Round, 197th
Overall, 1986 NHL Amateur Draft
Season with Buffalo: 1995-96
Uniform Number: 1
|Under normal circumstances, John Blue might never have played for the Buffalo Sabres. The circumstances that brought Blue to the Sabres, however, were anything but ordinary.
By December of 1995, John Blue's professional career was all but over. A career minor leaguer, Blue had spent the last 9 years bouncing from team to team, league to league. In his nine year career, to that point, Blue had played for 13 different professional teams in four different leagues, and as a backup goaltender on the United States National team. Drafted in 1986, Blue spent 6 years in the minors before ever seeing time in the NHL. When he did, it was as a third stringer in the Boston Bruins system, where he saw spot duty during the 1992-93 and 1993 -94 seasons.
In 1995, Blue signed as a free agent with the Phoenix Roadrunners of the International Hockey League. After playing just 8 games for the Roadrunners, Blue was released in November of 1995. Out of work, Blue was contemplating life after hockey when fate stepped in.
By the end of December, 1995, the Buffalo Sabres were in a state of crisis. All-Star starting goaltender Dominik Hasek had gone down with an abdominal strain and was unable to play. Third stringer Robb Stauber, who had been playing for the Sabres' AHL affiliate in Rochester was out of action as well with a torn rotator cuff. The Sabres were muddling through behind backup Andrei Trefilov and rookie Steve Shields, who had been called up from the South Carolina Stingrays of the East Coast Hockey League. All was going well enough for the Sabres, considering the circumstances, when on December 23, 1995, Trefilov injured his knee in a game against the Ottawa Senators. Desperate, the Sabres called in eighteen year old Martin Biron, their 1995 1st round draft pick, from the Beauport Harfangs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Biron and Shields split the goaltending duties for the next two games, but the two young rookies were beaten badly in their outings.
Having plumbed the depths of their system for goaltending talent, the Sabres, looking for more experienced help to take the load off of the youngsters, signed John Blue to a free agent contract on December 28, 1995. For Blue, it was a chance to take one last crack at the NHL.
Blue was in uniform and starting in goal for the Sabres the following night, December 29, 1995 at home against the Chicago Blackhawks. Blue faced 39 shots, and stopped 34 of them, as the Sabres lost 5-2. Blue was in net again for the Sabres on December 31, as the Sabres lost another 5-2 decision, this time to the New York Islanders. Blue's first win as a Sabre came on January 5, 1996 as the Sabres beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at the Aud in Buffalo. The following night, Biron received the start in Montreal, but was pulled five minutes into the first period after giving up two goals. Blue finished the game for the Sabres and held on for the win as the Sabres beat the Canadiens 7-6 on three third period goals.
On January 10, 1996, Dominik Hasek returned to the Buffalo lineup. Biron was sent back to his junior club, and Blue stayed on in Buffalo to backup Hasek. He remained with the team throughout January, seeing action once more as he replaced Hasek in a 6-3 loss to the Florida Panthers. When Trefilov returned from his knee injury in early February, Blue was sent down to the Rochester Americans, where he finished out the remainder of the season. In his five appearances as a Sabres, Blue posted a 3.53 goals against average, a .891 save percentage and a record of 2 wins and 2 losses.
At the end of the 1995-96 season, Blue was released by the Buffalo Sabres. He signed as a free agent with the Austin Ice Bats of the Western Professional Hockey League for the 1996-97 season. At the end of the season, John Blue retired from professional hockey.
|John Blue as a Boston Bruin, 1993.|